Court States You Can't Get Raped in Skinny Jeans

BlogHer Original Post

People have connected clothing to rape for years, usually from the angle that the woman must want sex due to what she's wearing. Taking the discussion a dangerous step further, an Australian court acquitted Nicholas Gonzales of rape charges based on the idea that skinny jeans are so difficult to get off, that the woman would therefore need to consent to sex if the jeans were removed. In other words, the denim chastity belt defense.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald,

During the trial the jury sent a note to the judge asking for more information about "how exactly Nick took off her jeans."

"I doubt those kind of jeans can be removed without any sort of collaboration," the note read.

Today, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that District Court Judge Penelope Hock denied Gonzales' appeal for legal costs, citing "medical evidence suggesting the 24-year-old woman had been sexually assaulted."

Dr Rosemary Isaacs, who examined the complainant on April 10, 2008, had found "evidence of trauma" around her genital region. "In my view Dr Isaacs's evidence was compelling, particularly in relation to (the allegation of anal intercourse)," Judge Hock said, adding that such evidence had been available at the time the proceedings were started. Accordingly it was not unreasonable for the prosecution to have taken the matter to trial.

This isn't the first time skinny jeans has come up as a defense in a rape case, and this ruling sadly comes only weeks after April 21, or Demim Day, which is a yearly part of sexual assault awareness month. On this day, women are encouraged to wear jeans to protest this exact same denim chastity belt defense, which was used in Italy in 1992 to free a man convicted of rape.

The judge overlooked the evidence and the death threats. He was either unaware or simply didn't care about law enforcement's standard warning against attempting to fight a physically dominant rapist, lest it enrage him further. Instead, he relied on the archaic "she was asking for it" rape defense and freed a sexual predator.

But it's not just a "she was asking for it" argument. It's also a "she must have wanted it because she took off the jeans herself" defense. And it's coupled with the unbelievable fact that more than one man has used this successfully to explain a violent sexual encounter including two appeals cases in 2008 -- in South Korea (in which the conviction was overturned) and Italy (where it wasn't>.

Feministing decries that this defense "smacks of slut shaming and victim blaming." That it cements the idea that wearing certain articles of clothing makes rape permissible. Trespass Magazine wryly comments that skinny jeans must therefore be anti-rape jeans since no one can be raped in them./

Following this logic, one is to justifiably assume, if skinny jeans cannot be removed by one person, skinny jean wearers must regularly enlist the assistance of a removalist each time they need to take their pants off; when they, for example, use the toilet, or undress at the end of the day, or even undress when changing their minds about wearing skinny jeans in the first place.

And of course, they point out how rulings such as this one will not only allow a guilty person to go free and have a chance to perpetuate the crime again, but that women will think twice about stepping forward and turning in a man after a rape when they know that after all of the heartache of the trial, the message sent will be that they not only brought it upon themselves, but it was consensual to boot.

Shakesville seconded Tresspass Magazine's line of thinking, and checks in with her understanding of how clothing comes into play when discussing rape:

Just to be sure I understand The Rules, a short skirt means I'm "asking for it," and skinny jeans are axiomatic evidence of consent. Got it.

There was no room in the ruling for the idea of a survival strategy--that the woman may have helped take off the jeans in order to save herself from other promised violence, which is what happened in the 1992 case in Italy. There is only the idea that if the jeans came off, consent was given.

And that, frankly, makes me more than just a little ill.

What are your feelings on the ruling?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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